Gate swings open for Beckett fest

Playwright feted at Irish festival

DUBLIN — Samuel Beckett, during his lifetime a reluctant celebrity, will be center-stage throughout 2006, the 100th anniversary of his birth.

This is nowhere more the case than in Ireland, the writer’s birthplace, where numerous arts organizations are participating in a Beckett Centenary Festival. The programming powerhouse at the center of the fest is Dublin’s Gate Theater: Its director, Michael Colgan, is chairman of the Centenary committee, and the Gate’s simultaneous staging, in Dublin and London, of most of Beckett’s stage plays is the fest’s central piece of programming.

Productions of “Waiting for Godot” and “Krapp’s Last Tape” (starring John Hurt) are holdovers from the Gate’s previous Beckett fests (in 1991, ’96 and ’99), and there will be eight new productions of Beckett’s works onstage, including “Eh Joe,” a new stage adaptation of the TV play directed by Atom Egoyan and starring Michael Gambon.

The Gate Becketts run from April 6-27.

Other Irish arts institutions celebrating Beckett include independent theater company Bedrock, which will produce four of the writer’s short plays; the Irish Film Institute, presenting a range of films relating to Beckett; and Trinity College, Beckett’s alma mater, which is curating an academic symposium on the writer that includes contributions from critics Terry Eagleton and Joyce McMillan, thesp Fiona Show and playwright Frank McGuinness.